When in ROAM…

We’ve spent the last two months living in Ubud, Bali at ROAM. And while we have explored Bali during our stay and done some short side trips, the majority of our time has been living and working in a co-living space that’s perfect for the digital nomad lifestyle.


The ‘hood

We’ve enjoyed getting to know our neighbourhood of Penestanan, with it’s winding, busy roads and its pathways between the rice fields. We found our local coffee houses, A.R.A.K. (close to ROAM) and Dharma (close to Bintang), our spot for Happy Hour, Element (2 for 1 cocktails and they’re ridiculously tasty!), and some cheap and cheerful places to eat, such as Bayu’s kitchen, Ibu Putu’s Warung, Sri Ratih, Cafe Vespa, and Bamboo Spirit.

We found the ‘back way’ to Bintang supermarket via the pathways, as well as the ATMs that give out 2.5M rupiah (some max out at 1M or 1.5M). We’ve enjoyed some nicer meals at Pacha Mama, Bridges, Elephant, and Roots. We’ve frequently popped across the street to a little convenience store for snacks, Cokes, and cold Bintang. There is a yoga place 5 min away and a gym 15 min away, which is small but affordable and has enough equipment to get the job done. There is also a fantastic running trail, the Campuhan Ridge – the start of the trail is closer to Ubud, but it’s still part of our ‘hood.

The people

ROAM is about people. Since we’ve been here quite a while, we’ve met and said goodbye to many people who have become dear friends – people from all over the world – Greece, Austria, The Netherlands, Ireland, the US, Australia, the UK, Germany, Russia, Canada…and many more places around the world.

We’ve broken bread – both here at ROAM and at various restaurants around Ubud – we’ve taken day trips, sat by the beach, held workshops, done yoga together, hung out, shared drinks and stories, played Cards Against Humanity, and helped each other professionally and personally. We’ve been a family – and just like any family there are those you love, those that you find intriguing, those you learn from, and those who get on your last nerve. 😉 Think of a group of colleagues who work and live together. That’s the ROAMILY.

There also is an incredible team of locals who literally keep ROAM running, including a Community Manager who brings us together, handles any issues, and creates community events.

And last, but definitely not least, there is Lu (Princess Lu, LuLu, Miss Lu), our dog.


She is not technically people, but please don’t tell her that. Unfortunately, there are those that want her gone. This is maddening and upsetting to many of us, as she is as much a part of this family as we are, but there is a plan to re-home her in California with a former ROAMIE. If you’re so inclined, you can donate to help get her there.

The work

While we’ve been here, Ben’s been building an app for a client – which just launched on iOS (Congrats!) and is soon to launch on Android, and I have been both writing and doing some contracted editing work. The writing is going extremely well and I have added nearly 70,000 words to my manuscript, which is the sequel to the book I published last year. It will be ready for a July publication!

There’s a shared work-space on the upper deck, a conference room for quiet and air conditioning, and it’s been fun to work from our little deck or poolside. I’ve also popped out to the coffee house for a few hours at a time for a change of scene. And, we have often taken our work with us when we’ve had day trips, which is a really lovely way to work.

The day-to-day

Certain domestic concerns have been taken off our hands here at ROAM. We don’t wash our towels and sheets, we don’t take out the rubbish and nor do we clean our rooms, which are serviced weekly. The pool, the grounds, the common areas and the plants are all taken care of. Alleviating these tasks frees up an enormous amount of time – at least for me.

We do wash our clothes, shop for and cook our own meals (if we want to eat in) and we clean up after ourselves in the kitchen. ROAM supplies bottled water, but the water in the rooms and kitchen is filtered, so we can brush our teeth with it and wash our fruit and veggies with it.

We share all the common areas – not just the work spaces – so try to be respectful of other people. Laundry is only done on a 20-min cycle, for instance. We each have our own shelves in the fridge and in the pantry, and we share some community food, such as fresh eggs daily, milk and fruit.

There are also weekly events organised by the Community Manager to ensure the community meets new arrivals, gets to see Ubud and other parts of Bali, and gets to experience the community feel that makes ROAM unique.

Would I come again?

In a heartbeat.

Sunset from ROAM

With thanks to Ben Reierson for additional photos, including ‘Sunset from ROAM’ above.


Why I’m taking a mid-career sabbatical

Outskirts of Ubud, Bali 2015

“Let’s trade a year of our retirement for 2018,” said Ben. We’d been toying with the idea for years, but he was giving it a time-frame, making it concrete. Initially, my stomach clenched at the thought, but I took a deep breath and said yes.

Ben and I have long described ourselves as ‘location-agnostic’, but in the truest sense of that term, we won’t really be location-agnostic until 2018. Up until now, it has meant that with no children and no mortgage, our lives are relatively portable. Yes, we will always have the hoops of immigration laws to jump through – he is American and I’m an Australian with a soon-to-be-much-less-useful British passport – but we have already lived together on two continents, and next year we’ll add two more.

What is the plan? In 2018, we will travel to several destinations where we will stay for 1-3 months, unpack, live like locals as much as possible, and essentially be location-agnostic. First stop, mother nature permitting, is Bali. We will be staying at ROAM, a co-living space designed for digital nomads – another moniker we’ll be trying on for size.

After a couple of months in Bali (a once-renewed visitor’s visa gives us a maximum of 60 days in Indonesia), we will head to the US and Canada. I get 90 days in the US, including any hops out and back in to Mexico or Canada, so we will spend a few weeks visiting family and friends, and then a significant amount of time living by the lake at the family’s cabin. After the US is England, with travel to Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. And we’ll likely finish out the year with a few months in Portugal, or somewhere equally beautiful and affordable in Europe.

What will we be doing? We both have some contract work lined up, mine in writing and editing, and Ben’s in mobile app development, but the aim is to make time each day and week to immerse ourselves in our surroundings, to go, see, do and experience. Importantly, I will write for myself – first the sequel to the novel I just published and then other ideas that have been percolating for (it seems like) eons. And of course, there are the people – people we know and love who are scattered all over the world, and the people we haven’t met yet, ex-pats like us, friends of friends, locals. We’ll take photos and write, and share our year. We’ll embrace opportunities as they arise, promising ourselves to say yes more than we say no.

Why are we doing this? The simplest response – which is both contemplative and realistic – is that ‘life is short’. The more complex response involves the label we have long self-identified with. Will we actually want to live a location-agnostic life long-term? Are we going to retire in 10 years, sell off our possessions, and flit about the world being ‘homeless’? Can ‘home’ really be wherever we lay our respective hats and/or suitcases?

We will see.

How are we preparing? With lots of research, lists, and spreadsheets. Between us, we are figuring out what to store and what to sell, what phones we will use, what insurance we should buy, how we can maximise our collective frequent flier points on 6 airlines and across 4 continents, who is prepared to put up with us for a night or 3 or 8, and other fun logistics. We’ll be frugal when we can, so we can go, see, do, and experience as much as possible. We’re teeing up contract work, and making professional connections. We’re buying lightweight travel versions of things. We’re only packing clothes that go with everything else we’re packing. We’re shipping winter clothes and boots to England. We’re busy!

What do we hope for? I will only speak for myself here. I am hoping that time will start to slow, that the creative juices will flow, that I will take (better) care of myself, that I will relish the time with Ben and other loved ones, that I will embark on new friendships, that I will embrace challenges and adventures, and that I will get less attached to things and routines.

And in 2019? Again, we’ll see…